Feb 8, 2009
Many talk about Rio's famed carnival, but few know what it actually entails. The highlight of the week-long bachanal is the samba school parades. Each neighbourhood has its own escola de samba, and they parade down a wide avenue called Marques de Sapucaí flanked with huge bleachers - called the Sambódromo - and are given scores by a panel of judges.
Of all the leagues, the SPECIAL GROUP is the best of the best. These schools parade on Sunday and Monday, finishing at dawn. The 14 schools in the league form the Liga Independente das Escolas de Samba do Rio de Janeiro, and each is composed of approximately five thousand revellers in incedibly elaborate costumes. Atop the floats, in skimpy and glittery bikinis - or sometimes even naked - are several Brazilian celebs.
Carnival is taken very seriously by cariocas, of course, and attending the official samba school desfiles (parades) can get quite pricey. Advance planning is a must, although last minute tickets are always available at a "slight" premium from scalpers and hotel concierges. Here are the official prices for the 09 carnival parades:
Usually, tickets go on sale in November, while a small portion is reserved for foreign tourists until early January. You can always try calling them and seeing if there are last-minute tickets available. The contact info is:
LIESA Sales office - selling official tickets
to the parades
Rua da Alfândega, 25, lojas B/C, Centro
Tel.: (55-21) 2233 – 8151
You can also read more about the 2009 carnival parades on the Riotur website.